Teaching Oral Rehydration Techniques to Parents in Rural Panama: Nurses Making a Difference

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Vivian C. Gamblian, RN, MSN
School of Nursing, Baylor University, Louise Herrington School of Nursing, Dallas, TX

Learning Objective 1: The learner will identify life threatening risks and successful interventions related to serious dehydration among their children and family members.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will receive instruction for preparation of oral rehydration solution using readily available household substances and "TALC" measuring spoons which were given to attendees.

Dehydration secondary to protracted vomiting and diarrhea can result in life threatening complications in young children, particularly those living in developing countries across the world. The World Health Organization recommends the use of ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) for management of pediatric dehydration. Dehydration in children presents a particular problem for families in rural Panama. Many rural families live more than 30 kilometers from the nearest healthcare services.  Available methods of transportation in rural Panama include walking, horseback, and intermittent taxi services. The limited or absent  transportation to healthcare facilities and licensed healthcare professionals can result in worsening dehydration along with increased morbidity and mortality for children experiencing dehydrating conditions.

In June, 2012, two Registered Nurses provided education to rural Panamanian families, regarding management of rehydration for children. Teaching focused on identification of dehydration following vomiting and diarrhea. Families were taught how to prepare the Oral Rehydration Solution in their home, using boiled and cooled water, household table salt (NaCl) and granulated sugar, in quantities measured  with the “TALC” ORS spoons, which were given to each family.  A simple information sheet, written in Spanish and with drawings depicting the measurements and instructions, was given to family members to reinforce the teaching.

Classes for rural Panamanian families were provided at the local schools, following approval by local authorities. The education was well received by the attendees and the school personnel.  Many participants expressed appreciation for the information and stated that it was previously unknown to them.